What will happen to my cancer treatment?

Treatments for kidney cancer include the following:

  • Targeted therapies such as sunitinib (Sutent), pazopanib (Votrient), axitinib (Inlyta), cabozantinib (Cabometyx), and lenvatinib (Lenvima)
  • Immunotherapy treatments include nivolumab (Opdivo), ipilimumab (Yervoy), pembrolizumab (Keytruda), and bevacizumab (Avastin).

The Government has issued guidance fore people who were considered to be extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes people who are on immunotherapy and/or targeted therapy, such as protein kinase inhibitors, for the treatment of advanced or metastatic cancer.

What will happen to my cancer treatment?

You might have questions about your ongoing cancer treatment, such as:

  • Will it be postponed?
  • Should I still go to hospital appointments?
  • How will my hospital decide whether I am a priority for treatment? Will there be national rules?
  • If treatment, including stem cell transplants, are deferred and I begin to relapse will this limit my eligibility for future lines of treatment?
  • Should I start chemotherapy treatment (particularly if it is a 2nd/3rd line for “mop up” ) or postpone?
  • As a stage 4 patient will I be given life support if I have breathing difficulties due to the virus?
  • If I get the virus and recover, will this affect my cancer treatment and outlook?

Essential and urgent cancer diagnosis, treatment and care will continue. NHS staff are working hard to ensure cancer treatments can continue in the safest and best possible way. To do this during the pandemic there may need to be some changes to how treatments are delivered.

  • Cancer treatments, especially operations and chemotherapy, are riskier now than before. Cancer and its treatment can weaken the immune system, making a person more vulnerable to the virus.
  • In some cases, it may be safer to delay cancer treatment or give it in a different way, to reduce the risk from coronavirus.
  • Any decisions about surgery and other treatments will be based on how urgent it is and the level of risk. Your safety is a priority in making any decisions.

Changes are being made to the way services are delivered to keep patients and staff safe.

  • Most hospitals have started to use more telephone consultations as a way of helping people to avoid long waits in clinics and for treatment. You may be called to arrange your treatments in this way, and planned treatments may need to be moved to help with running a smooth service.
  • Some patients may have their chemotherapy at home or have fewer radiotherapy appointments, to reduce visits to hospital while continuing with their treatment.
  • For some people, it may be safer to delay surgery. Your doctor may suggest a different treatment in the meantime, such as chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.

Some patients may have their treatment move to a cancer hub in a different hospital to ensure it can continue safely. You will remain under the care of your treating hospital and clinical specialist team and should contact them with any questions about your treatment and care.

Your cancer specialist team should discuss your treatment and care with you, including any changes. Your doctors will always have your safety at the centre of any decisions they make.

Nationally, the NHS has issued advice to clinicians to help inform these conversations with patients. The advice is also there to help clinicians to manage risks and prioritise treatment on the basis of clinical need.

Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about your treatment and appointments. They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation. If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your clinical team.